One of the things I noticed during my brief involvement with it was that, far from being the brilliant electoral machine you might expect, the Conservative Party is one of the most ineptly run organisations I have ever come across – most obviously at a strategic level. That people in such an inept organisation are running the country is often quite alarming! Two recent areas in which they have become utterly confused strategically demonstrate this.
Firstly, there is the “UKIP issue” which seems to be concerning them. Tim Montgomerie tells us that the plan may be to “unite the centre right” by offering a straight in/out EU referendum at the 2015 General Election.
Even the Ulster Unionists couldn’t concoct a plan with such an obvious problem – namely that the centre right, even if it won the Election on that basis, would immediately collapse in on itself as it split right down on the middle during the referendum campaign itself!
It gets worse – because the “union” is completely unnecessary. The Conservatives keep going on about how UKIP cost them 21 seats at the last General Election. In fact, it was a maximum of five – a comprehensive demolition job of the ’21 myth’ appears here.
UKIP consists of a bungling bunch of fruitcakes whose Leader contrived to come third in a two-horse race against the Speaker at the last General Election! It attracts protest votes which were never going to the Conservatives in the first place, but no more than that. The Conservatives are worrying about completely the wrong foe. The Labour Party… now there is a serious electoral threat – any chance of taking it on?
Secondly, there is the boundaries issue. Conservatives have convinced themselves that the electoral boundaries are weighted against them, on the apparently compelling grounds that if they finished level with Labour on the popular vote they would still end up 50-100 seats behind. They came up with a plan to cut the number of constituencies to even up this weighting, which the LibDems then blocked in return for Lords Reform. The problem is, the current boundaries aren’t weighted against the Conservatives, so this is a battle they have no need whatsoever to fight!
The simple fact is that turnout in rural areas – right across the UK – is much higher than in urban areas. Rural areas tend to vote Conservative; urban Labour. Regardless of how you draw the boundaries, Labour will on average win seats with fewer total votes, because the turnout is lower.
The Conservatives are getting themselves tangled up with irrelevant parties and issues they simply don’t need to fight. Small wonder they are proving so incompetent in government! Is there any chance they could come up with a plan which doesn’t double the national debt, which actually brings our trading partners onside, and which thus delivers serious growth?